As a baby begins to grow from its very beginning as your FIRST STEM CELL (the zygote otherwise know as the fertilized egg) it requires a number of different growth factors during its many stages of development. Stem cells are special cells in each tissue which preserve the ability to produce new cells in that tissue. These rare cells respond to growth factors within their immediate environment rapidly producing new cells when and where they are needed. These growth factors are specific and push the developing cells into becoming the various types of cells that are required in the rebuilding or regeneration of a damaged organ.
For physicians to help their patients rebuild and regenerate their diseased and/or damaged body parts, growth factors can be used by direct injection into the damaged tissues (platelet enriched plasma=pep shots) or they can be given intravenously, up into the nostrils, under the tongue or transdermally (through the skin). Growth factors such as Human Growth Hormone (hGH) have been used in clinical anti-aging medicine since the time it first became available (1985) in the synthetic form. This was a major advance since it could be manufactured free of the slow acting virus that caused the deadly Creutzfeld-Jacob disease. This fatal neurodegenerative disease was accidentally acquired from the extracts of cadaver pituitaries used for growth hormone treatment before the lab production variety became available and before physicians knew this could happen.
In bone marrow stem cell therapy, growth factors that are normally produced within your own body are often supplied directly to the person receiving the transplant in order to enrich the fluids that the stem cells are growing into. In most all people over the age of 20-30 or so, the various growth factors have already started to decline from their more youthful levels. The highest levels of growth factors are present in the first trimester of life and these levels are likely to be the optimum concentrations needed for optimizing tissue regeneration.
Major growth factors used for stem cell stimulation are Neupogen [known as Filgastrim] and Epogen both of which stimulate the production of and mobilization of stem cells from the bone marrow. Indeed, if stem cells are the “building blocks” (imagine a pile of bricks) then cytokines and growth factors are the “workers” (imagine a team of hard-hat construction workers showing up to turn those bricks into a mansion). Growth factors are responsible for activating, prodding, stimulating, and mobilizing of stem cells from the bone marrow. The more specific the growth factors are chosen determines what type of tissue is going to be regenerated. Determination of the proper sequence and the types of these growth factors needed to make specific tissues is a major part of the stem cell research industry.
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Cytokines are a family of proteins produced by white blood cells that act as chemical messengers between cells. They can fuel or hamper the growth and activity of various immune cells.
Growth factors are a family of proteins that act like little keys, inserting themselves into keyholes (receptors on the surface of cells) to activate cellular division and/or differentiation. Some growth factors are multi-talented, stimulating cellular division in different types of cells. Other growth factors are specific to a particular type of cell.
GROWTH FACTORS examples include: PDGF [Platelet Derived Growth Factor] from platelets, endothelial cells and the placenta. PDGF promotes the proliferation of connective tissue, glial (supporting cells of the nervous system) and smooth muscle cells.
EGF [Epidermal Growth Factor] is found in the submaxillary gland (saliva gland) and Brunners gland (in the duodenum). EGF factor promotes proliferation of mesenchymal, glial and epithelial cells. EGF has proliferative effects on cells of both mesodermal and ectodermal origin, particularly keratinocytes and fibroblasts. EGF exhibits negative growth effects on certain carcinomas as well as hair follicle cells
TGF [Transforming Growth Factors] is common in transformed cells. Transformed cells are so-called, because they do not need growth factors and will form colonies in the absence of a solid support. TGF is related to EGF factor and is thought to be important for normal wound healing. Within the TGF family are at least 100 different family of growth factor members.
FGF [Fibroblast Growth Factor] is found in a wide range of cells and promotes proliferation of many cells (also inhibits some stem cells, and persuades mesoderm to form in early embryos). The FGF family has at least 19 members and can fit into 4 separate receptors.
NGF [Nerve Growth Factor] supports neuron growth and survival.
EPO [Erythropoietin] is manufactured by the kidneys and promotes the proliferation and differentiation of red blood cells. It also stimulates the growth of erythroid progenitor cells. When patients suffering from anemia due to kidney failure are given EPO, the result is a rapid and significant increase in red blood cell count.
IGF-I [Insulin-like Growth Factor I] is a growth factor structurally very much like insulin. IGF-I is a chemical produced by the liver and other tissues in response to human growth hormone (hGH). It plays a role in helping hGH cause changes in cells that lead to growth – particularly bone growth. It is related to IGF-II and proinsulin – also called Somatomedin C.
IGF-II [Insulin-like Growth Factor II] is almost exclusively expressed in embryonic and neonatal tissues. Thus, IGF-II is thought to be a fetal growth factor. It is from a variety of cells and promotes the proliferation of many types of cells, but especially fetal in origin. Like IGF-I, IGF-II are peptide hormones that play an important role in the regulation of metabolism and growth.
CYTOKINES are a unique family of growth factors: Cytokines are secreted primarily from lymphocytes (white blood cells), and stimulate immune responses, including the activation of the killer white blood cells. These cytokines are termed lymphokines, whereas those secreted by monocytes or macrophages are termed monokines.
Many lymphokines are also known as interleukins (ILs). Interleukins are growth factors targeted at helping hematopoietic cells (See Types Of Adult Stem Cells). The predominant function of IL-1 is to enhance the activation of T-cells in response to antigen.
T-cells are types of white blood cells that are involved in rejecting foreign tissue, regulating immunity, and controlling the production of antibodies to fight infection. IL-2, produced and secreted by activated T-cells, is the major interleukin responsible for clonal (originating from one cell) T-cell proliferation. IL-2 also exerts effects on B-cells, macrophages, and natural killer (NK) cells (i.e., your immune system). The production of IL-2 occurs primarily by CD4+ T-helper cells.
CD4+ T cells, also known as helper T cells, help orchestrate the antibody responses.
IL-6 is produced by macrophages, fibroblasts, endothelial cells and activated T-helper cells. IL-6 acts in synergy with IL-1 and TNF in many immune responses, including T-cell activation. IL-6 also enhances the differentiation of B-cells and their resultant production of immunoglobulin (a protein in your immune system that acts as an antibody to fight disease). Glucocorticoid (a natural steroid in the body that is anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive) synthesis is also enhanced by IL-6. Unlike IL-1, IL-2 and TNF which all directly stimulate cytokine growth, IL-6′s main effects are to increase the responses of immune cells to other cytokines.
TNF [Tumor Necrosis Factor] have varieties called cachectin and lymphotoxin. Cachectin’s major job is to modify cytokines produced mostly by activated macrophages. Both IL-1 and TNF participate in autocrine growth factors, increases cellular responsiveness to growth factors, and induces signaling pathways that lead to proliferation. TNF acts in concert with EGF and PDGF on some cell types. Lymphotoxin is produced primarily in the T-lymphocytes, and has the ability to kill a number of different cell types.
INF [Interferon] is a protein produced by cells. Interferon helps regulate the body’s immune system, boosting activity when a threat, such as a virus, is found. Interferon has many types. Some are predominantly responsible for antiviral activities. Some interferon is secreted by CD8+ T-cells. Nearly all cells have receptors for interferon. It has been shown to fight cancer.
CSFs [Colony Stimulating Factors] are cytokines that stimulate the proliferation of specific pluripotent stem cells of the bone marrow in adults. Granulocyte-CSF (G-CSF) is specific for proliferative effects on cells of the granulocyte lineage. Macrophage-CSF (M-CSF) is specific for cells of the macrophage lineage. Granulocyte-macrophage-CSF (GM-CSF) has proliferative effects on both classes of lymphoid cells. EPO is also considered a CSF as well as a growth factor, since it stimulates the proliferation of erythrocyte colony-forming units. IL-3 (secreted primarily from T-cells) is also known as multi-CSF, since it stimulates stem cells to produce all forms of hematopoietic cells.
The clinical techniques that we have developed may not all be within standard medical practice and our clinic clients must give their prior informed consent for the use of their own bone marrow stem cells as a potentially beneficial therapy, but not as standard treatment for disease.